Mate, it’s big: Huawei’s 6.1 inch $429 phablet reviewed

Huawei’s on-screen keyboard has never been amazing, and it hasn’t changed much in the version present here, with spelling errors rarely corrected or looked at, and no gesture-based writing mode built in, something we’ve seen on practically every stock on-screen keyboard this year.

You could always replace Huawei’s keyboard with one purchased from Google Play, but the Mate can be so slow that it makes using Swype-like writing near impossible thanks to the frequent slowdowns and crashes.

The lack of high-speed 4G LTE connectivity is a bit of a downer here too, and with a maximum download speed of around 6 to 7Mbps, not everyone will be delighted with the value being packed into the Mate.

There’s nothing wrong with 3G, but we didn’t even experience any dual-channel love here, and with speeds in the Sydney CBD topping out just before 7Mbps, we’re a little concerned what the performance will be like the further we move from the city and into the suburbs.

Its one saving grace in performance is battery life, which for us topped out at around two days of constant use. That’s using the phone with two email accounts, web surfing, social networking, music playback, text messages, and phone calls.

Outside of the battery life, the camera is ok, though we wouldn’t say Huawei’s choice of 8 megapixel camera modules is the best out there. Auto-focus is a bit of a hit and miss, though when it works, you’ll find it takes roughly half a second.

A 100 percent crop of one our test images. See what it looked like before we cropped it in the gallery.

Up close, the image quality is a touch blurry, though for most people, uploading to Facebook and other social networks will be the main use, and for that, this camera is perfectly adequate, adding some effects to the camera app.

Huawei's Ascend Mate is so big, it towers over the Samsung Galaxy S4 sitting on top of it in this picture.


If you can live with the slowdowns and speed issues, the Ascend Mate is a decent handset for people who prefer bigger screens.

From this reviewer’s point of view, this would make it ideal for senior citizens or children, as the phone is big enough that neither of these groups of people will suffer from complaints of things being too small to see or read.

The performance problems might be too much for some, and since it doesn’t quite come close to what Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 offers, we’re suggesting this handset only if you’re prepared to put up with the occasional problems and are keen on the $429 price.


Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Massive screen; Huge battery means two days of life are easily possible; Upgradeable storage; Huawei's decision to skin overlay without apps menu means it's easy to understand if customers are coming from an iPhone;
Slower system performance than it probably should have; Looks ridiculous in a pocket; If you're coming from regular Android, can take a little longer to get used to thanks to the changes Huawei's overlay uses; No 4G; Low 3G speeds;